Cognitive and Behavioural Therapy

Cognitive and Behavioural Therapy

What is Cognitive and Behavioural Therapy?

Cognitive and Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is a talking therapy that can help you to manage your mental health, emotional and physical problems by changing the was you think and behave.  CBT can be explained in two parts;

Cognitive Therapy aims to explore how people think about and create meanings about situations, symptoms and events in their lives, which influences their belief about themselves, others and the world.

Behavioural Therapy aims to change harmful and unhelpful behaviours that an individual may have.


Although we tailor therapy to suit the individual, there are certain principles that underline CBT for all patients, these include:

  • Forming therapeutic alliance between the client and therapist
  • Working collaboratively to identify the problem, and share understanding of the maintenance of the issue
  • Working on the here and now
  • Setting SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, timely) goals and establish steps to achieve them
  • Empowering and encouraging people to solve their problems
  • Setting action plans so that people can put learning into practice


CBT can be used if you are on medication which has been prescribed by your GP. You can also use CBT on its own. This will depend on the difficulty you want help with.

How does CBT help?

CBT can help you to change how you think (cognitive) and react (behaviour).  It focuses on the here and now and equips you with problem solving strategies to help you to cope better.  Although the focus is on the present moment, we may go into your past to find the root cause of your difficulties, which helps us to formulate the problem and collaboratively create a plan for therapy.

CBT helps you to make sense of problems by breaking them into five smaller parts. This makes it easier to see how they are connected and how it affects you.  These five parts are shown in the CBT model below.

Cognitive and Behavioural Therapy - CBT model


When something happens in one of these parts, it affects every other area, like a vicious cycle.  The way we think affects our mood, which affects us physically, and our biological sensations affects our actions.  There are helpful and unhelpful ways of thinking and reacting in situations.  Sometimes the same situation can lead to two different results depending on how you think about it.

Once you are aware of your vicious cycle, you can establish clear therapy goals.  CBT can help you to achieve your objectives by teaching you techniques to challenge your thoughts and adapt your behaviour.  When you change one part of the CBT model, it affects every other part, and with regular practice over a period of time, you can create a healthier cycle.


The techniques come under either behavioural or cognitive approaches:

Cognitive approaches include questioning, guided discovery, reflect on ways of reasoning and thinking, consider other ways of thinking, and identify unhelpful thinking patterns.

Behavioural approaches include modifying unhelpful behaviour, use of exposure work to gradually face feared situations, and develop new behaviours to deal with problems and situations.


The aim of CBT is to apply the learnt techniques to your daily life, and regular reviews are carried out to assess progress.  Frequent summaries allows us to help with suggestions if any of the tasks seem too difficult.

We will not ask you to do things you do not want to do.  You decide the pace of the treatment and what you will and will not try. The strength of CBT is that you can continue to practise and develop your skills even after the sessions have finished, making it less likely for the problems to return..

How effective is CBT?

There is a great deal of research evidence showing CBT to be effective in treating many mental health problems, including anxiety, depression, panic, phobias, post-traumatic stress disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder.  This evidence has been reviewed by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), where they provide independent, evidence-based guidance for the NHS on the most effective way to treat mental health illnesses.

CBT is one of the most effective psychological treatments for conditions where anxiety or depression is the main problem, and is as effective as antidepressants for many types of depression.

Pros and cons of CBT

  • There is evidence showing effectiveness of CBT across a wide range of mental health problems
  • CBT teaches you practical and psychological techniques, equipping you with skills for life that you can use at any time to deal with problems
  • CBT gradually helps in reducing and managing your symptoms with long-lasting results allowing you to feel more in control in your life
  • CBT helps to work towards specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely goals supporting you to move forward
  • CBT may be helpful alongside medication, in cases where medication alone has not worked
  • CBT can be completed in a relatively short period of time in comparison to other talking therapies
  • CBT can be provided in different formats i.e. one to one or group settings

Although CBT has been proven to be effective in treating mental health illnesses, it is not for everyone.  For CBT to work, you need to be committed to the treatment by attending all of the sessions, do the extra work outside of the sessions, and be willing to explore your emotions and negative thoughts.  Due to the structured sessions it may not be suitable for people with complex mental health difficulties or learning difficulties.

At Mindset Rethink, you can have CBT individually or in a group, face-to-face or over the phone.

The number of sessions and duration for therapy can vary based on the difficulty experienced.  We offer free initial consultation to discuss this